Orphans, the blind, mentally deranged and the aged, lepers,
cripples and other handicapped persons suffered neglect during the early decades of
Indonesian independence following World War II. Customarily they had relied upon closely
knit, supportive family ties; in stable rural villages family tragedies could be
accommodated. However, as fast-paced revolutionary changes shaped a modernizing commercial
and industrial state, this social cushion disintegrated, leaving adrift those shunned or
least able to compete.
Indonesian cultural values emphasize shared responsibilities within the village.
Muslim, Hindu and Christian teachings also stress care for the needy. Informal welfare
efforts, however, have proved inadequate as Indonesia's population more than doubled to
number almost 148 million. Social tensions were aggravated by urbanization as millions
flocked from villages into Jakarta and other ballooning cities.
JOHANNA SUNARTI NASUTION became concerned with social welfare as a girl. Born in
Surabaya in 1923, she learned from her Javanese father and Dutch mother of the
intellectual currents shattering the old feudal relationships. She was schooled in
Yogyakarta and Bandung and in 1947 married the future General Abdul Haris Nasution by whom
she has had two children.
Indonesians sometimes say: "If you want something planned, talk with the men. If
you want something done, talk with the women." In this spirit Mrs. NASUTION pursued
her work independent of her husband's military career, although on occasion their
relationship has opened doors. Reaching far beyond her initial work with soldiers'
families, her efforts have been directed with continuity and fidelity to the larger needs
of the country.
The Indonesian National Council on Social Welfare which was organized by Mrs. NASUTION
and her associates today includes 23 national nongovernmental groups, 18 provincial
coordinating councils of social welfare, 17 schools with social work faculties and 9
national government agencies. Working together are the Muhammadiyah and
Aisyiyahmajor Muslim organizations for men and women respectively, the Red Cross,
Bishops' Conference, National Council of Churches, Hindu Dharma Council, several
federations for the handicapped and similar nonprofit associations.
The organizational approach Mrs. NASUTION initiated in Jakarta 18 years ago became the
model. The National Council guides and assists member organizations in recruiting
volunteer workers and experts, organizing workshops, collecting funds and distributing
donated food, clothing and medicines. The Council also assists in placing children in
families, schools and jobs, and in marketing handicrafts, vegetables and fruits for
cooperatives. Management guidance is provided to homes for the disabled, sick destitutes
and orphans. The Council helps draw up the welfare portion of the government's National
Development Plan, working closely with the departments concerned to achieve equitable
distribution of welfare. All is accomplished by a headquarters of 15 paid staff and 55
Through her energy, initiative and vision, Mrs. NASUTION has infused her colleagues in
their own organizations with purpose and professionalism. Much remains to be done, but the
cadre of social workers she has inspired now has tools to aid Indonesia's least fortunate.
In electing JOHANNA SUNARTI NASUTION to receive the 1981 Ramon Magsaysay Award for
Public Service, the Board of Trustees recognizes her leadership of a volunteer movement,
institutionalizing social services through cooperation by diverse civic and religious
groups, schools and government agencies.